Coronavirus forces Tokyo Marathon to be contested without crowd as Salpeter sets course record

Lonah Korlima Chemtai Salpeter took victory in the women's race (PA Images)
Lonah Korlima Chemtai Salpeter took victory in the women's race (PA Images)
15:00pm, Sun 01 Mar 2020
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Israel's Lonah Korlima Chemtai Salpeter won the 2020 Tokyo Marathon with a course record time around the empty streets of the Japanese city.

No crowd was present to see Salpeter win the race in two hours, 17 minutes and 45 seconds due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese retained his title from last year as he clinched the race for a second year in a row in 2:04:15.

The race was reduced to elite runners and wheelchair athletes only, meaning only a couple of hundred people took part as oppose to the usual number of around 38,000.

Spectators who were planning on coming to watch the event around the roads of Tokyo were advised by organisers to 'support through radio and TV' rather than come down in person due to the implications it could have to the spread of coronavirus.

One of the few people who watched the race first hand, Hiroshi Enomoto, told Reuters: "If the Olympics look like this, it's going to be a sad sight.

"There are maybe 20% of the number of people who came to see the race last year. Normally, it's so packed you can barely breathe."

Tokyo is scheduled to host the Olympic Games later this year from July 24 to August 9 and International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has told athletes to 'focus on their sport' in response to growing concerns about the health risks of staging the event. 

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